Goodbye to Lola

"She was a Showgirl"

My heart is heavy, despite the spring beauty of the day, because today I had to send Lola on. Dear Lola, our showgirl, so brave, did exactly what Dr. Zadick told me she would eight months ago when she came to TGC - she went totally blind. Like Allie, it came on suddenly in her good eye, and like Allie, she was distraught. Ramming piles of rocks and thrashing through brush trying to keep up with Silver, giving up and standing alone, calling for him - no, I wasn’t going to make her wait over two months as I did with Allie, hopelessly hoping that she would adjust. I wasn’t going to let her stress in darkness, alone.

Lola was a 30+ Arabian mare, tiny and waaay too thin. Sweet Lola came to us only 8 months ago when her people were killed in a head-on traffic accident. The children of those folk didn’t know how to care for their horses, and with Lola very elderly, asked TGC to help. We were happy to do so, and that never changed. On her first day here, when released, Lola raised her head up to look at the whole herd, and sailed right out there to say hi. Blind in one eye, extremely thin, tired after her trailer ride, her confidence was as high as her head and tail, and she approached the group as though they were her promised land.

In short order, she found Silver, who WAS the boyfriend she’d dreamed of her whole life, and till the end of her days, she stuck to him like glue.

I gave Lola several months off to build strength and weight. We got her teeth floated and despite the usual "Scare-ab" ways, she tolerated the procedure well - there was a lot to do in there!

She and Silver got their feet trimmed together - he wouldn't care if they were separated, but she would NOT be happy even for long enough to trim her toes!

These two even slept together ..

I could tell how well behaved she was, obviously someone had trained her well during her younger days. And she was so lovely, each day I would sing Copacabana ("her name was Lola, she was a showgirl,") to her, and she knew both her name, and I think the tune! So one day, when my volunteers Jules and her mom Lisa came to visit, I decided to see what we had. She was DARLING, letting Lisa, a rank beginner in the saddle but tiny as Lola herself, ride her around the round pen. Mostly, of course, she was just following Silver and Jules around, but carried Lisa as though that were her job, and she had integrity and a work ethic to go with her good looks and faithfulness. But I will say that although she enjoyed the attention, grooming and carrots, and although she behaved perfectly under saddle, Lola’s focus never really faltered - for her, the world was Silver.

I had just begun the amazing process of removing Lola’s winter coat, and was so pleased to see how well she’d retained weight during our cold winter, when I saw that her good eye was looking cloudy too. Fred reminded me that he told me to expect this - when she came in, there was a little ghostly cloud in her good eye, and it showed a bulgy quality that indicated pressure inside or behind it. A year ago he’d thought maybe there was a tumor (so common in white horses) pressing on the optic nerve. But as we know, even younger horses rarely come through surgeries of any sort very well, and at 30+, all I could hope was that she could maintain her level of vision for a while. It turns out, it was a very short while. Her eye occluded in a few days, and the horror began. Just like with Allie, she seemed to think if she just moved, she’d be ok. And reminiscent of Allie ramming the arena fence down, I was horrified watching Lola ram a pile of rocks, tearing her delicate legs up. And once she was in this mode, it was so hard to catch her, and soothe her - she didn’t want to walk on a lead which she normally did perfectly, moving side to side, lifting her legs high and surging back and forth. At first it seemed she was ok in her stall, but I watched her walk into her windbreak, and then knock down the fence by her water barrel, and realized she wasn’t going to make it.

Sadly, at first, Silver simply wandered around, business as usual, a little exasperated that she wasn’t keeping up. But I think he was figuring it out. Lola spent her last three days in her stall - the first day he came back to stand by her and I brought him a special snack to eat there; the second day was rain so they were both in, and the last day I just asked him to stay in with her, which he did with no problem. And when she died, he was hanging back with us - he didn’t go right out for breakfast as I expected he would. A classic example of not valuing somebody until they’re gone. Dang it.

When she came in, the pictures were "Lola this" and "Lola that". But quickly, every picture of Lola included Silver, so it was Lola and Silver, or Silver and Lola, every time. But by this year, every picture was just "The Blancos" - never mind that Remy, Dion, Montego, Queenie were all white too, "The Blancos" meant Silver and Lola, always. I hope losing her doesn’t hurt him too much... but suspect he will miss her horribly now that she’s gone....

Silver had comments about Lola's showgirl Flymask

Watching her walk out on her final morning, holding her head high as though to get some vision that way (horses will hold their heads up to increase their range of vision), stepping slowly and carefully, also lifting her feet high with each step and moving side to side as much as forward, I knew this was the right thing to do. Blindness is not manageable. And loneliness and darkness is no way for this sweet creature of the light to live. I know her spirit lingers here, because Silver can’t be more upset. She may not leave us until he does. But I know she is light and free now, and happy to stay as Silver’s guardian angel.

When I took this picture, I called it "Lola waits for Silver" ... now I see her, everywhere, waiting....

I’ve had people remind me so often that having a year, or even a few months, of perfect happiness being a horse is a great reward, after often difficult lives conforming to human expectations - that what TGC offers to these deserving souls is something they would never turn down. But sometimes it feels like I offer them their deepest desire, they get to taste and feel it, and then fate snatches it away from them, far too soon. I’ve had so many losses lately that I didn’t expect; and in the case of Buddy, Allie and Lola, the loss of healthy beautiful horses who had blossomed here, for stupid reasons, is more painful than most. I must believe we gave them something worth while - and hope that’s enough.

Lola didn't have much time here, but she was much loved and deserves that we should remember her.